COVID-19 Response Fund

During the initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis, we launched a Sobrato Rapid Response Fund to address the needs of Sobrato grantees as they responded to the crisis. We sought to listen and learn from our community partners as the situation developed. 

Priority was given to grantees who had urgent requirements to serve the needs of low-income populations, and those with immediate cash flow challenges due to the crisis response. Funds were released on a rolling basis to move resources quickly and allow the foundation to adapt as the situation developed.

Grantees of the COVID-19 Rapid Response fund are meeting the needs of vulnerable communities in the midst of this crisis--providing food, financial assistance (rent, utilities, transportation, medical needs, childcare), and adapting to serving clients remotely. Click here to view the full list of COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund Grantees.

Lessons Learned

We have reflected on the lessons learned to inform our mid- and long-term approach to investing in the recovery of our communities. Our hope is that in sharing these learnings, we can identify spaces for increased collaboration, lift up the voices of those most impacted, and support resiliency for our partners and community going forward.

By the Numbers

  • Over $2.5 million in grants to 90 organizations in just under two months
  • Median grant amount was $25,000 (ranging from $10,000 to $50,000)
  • Over three-quarters of funded organizations are located in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties
  • 79% of grant decisions made in 21 days or less
  • 80% of organizations were medium, small or very small as measured by annual budget

Over the five rounds of giving via the Rapid Response Fund, there was a shift in how organizations were responding and thinking about the pandemic. In the first few rounds, over half of all funded organizations were providing financial assistance and food as part of their primary response. By the final two rounds of giving, the primary response of well over three-quarters of grantees included modified programming and meeting other basic needs. After a couple months of adjusting to new ways of working, the long-term concerns of organizations shifted from increased demand and decreased contributed revenue, toward the need for long-term programmatic shifts and equity.

It is critical to highlight a long-term concern mentioned by nearly two-thirds of grantees: that the pandemic has and will only continue to exacerbate inequities for Black and Brown communities, low-income communities, and undocumented communities. Organizations committed to supporting students shared worries about learning loss; those working to empower low-income entrepreneurs and small businesses expressed concern for the disproportionate economic impacts the pandemic would have on those they serve.

We have been inspired and humbled by the responses of our grantee community. Organizations faced and met demands of up to 10x their normal service delivery. Staff were reassigned, new programs designed and implemented, and existing initiatives were adapted to meet emerging needs.

Recovery will require collaboration and coordination of funders, our nonprofit ecosystem, and community intermediaries. It will require expanding the table to include new partners and voices. It will require that we continue to listen and learn; to lift up and center the voices of those most impacted. We commit to continuing to listen and learn, and to doing so in partnership and in service of low-income communities.